On Saturday, the Ames straw poll showed that participants who paid the $30 entry fee like Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. She won first place. Congressman Ron Paul came in second. Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty came in third. Way down the list was Newt Gingrich. While the straw poll is essentially meaningless (think: mock elections in high school every presidential election year), it still doesn't stop the politicians from getting out the vote and the pundits over-analyzing the results. Its considered something of a "strength-test" for candidates, as many big-time donors await the results before they offer financial contributions. Already, the poll results have inflicted a casualty. Tim Pawlenty announced today that he is out of the race.
Thursday night was the GOP debate in which eight candidates were on stage: Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Tim Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman, and Newt Gingrich. I was able to watch the debate on Saturday thanks to YouTube. And yes, I watched all of it. I was intrigued, because the debates apparently had raised the blood pressure of some guy on Facebook who shares the same first name as me. On Friday, he defriended me because he saw that my name was listed as "liking" George W. Bush and Mitt Romney, so he posted on my wall that he could not be friends with someone who liked either of those men. I was stunned. For one thing, has he not read my article links and comments for the past couple years? As my true friends know, there would be no mistaking me for a Bush lover. All of my friends know as sure as the sun being a large ball of fire that I am a Gore loyalist to my dying day. There is simply no way that I would ever like anything about Bush.
The other thing is that I can't believe how shallow this guy views friendships. Granted, "friendships" on Facebook is about as shallow as a kiddie pool, but its still pretty galling that someone would de-friend someone just because someone does not share one's political or spiritual opinions. I have plenty of Republican friends and people of all kinds of religious or atheistic views. I would not dream of ending my friendship with any of them. I value relationships with people and view political and spiritual opinions / views as irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. Its always sad to me when someone de-friends someone because they don't like your personal views (well, I mean, I can understand not wanting to be friends with someone who made racist or sexist comments all the time).
When I emailed the guy, he requested to be friends again, so I accepted. Then a few hours later, I noticed that he was gone again and when I tried to access his wall, his name was gone. He re-appeared on my wall after I had posted the irony of a liberal de-friending me because he thought I was a Bush supporter. People are weird. As one lady I once knew would say, "It's the full moon." I believe it. When someone acts as irrationally as this guy, it has to be the full moon affect on his mind. I feel sorry for ideologues like him, de-friending people just because they don't agree with his views, or because he thinks they disagree with him.
So, what was it about the debate that would give such a guy "high blood pressure"? I watched and felt no such thing. Of course, I don't take politics as seriously as some people. Its all a shallow game. A superficial construct. For me, its my "sports." Most men are big into sports. I never got into it. Yet, I still have the male gene of competition, so for me, my sports focused on politics. Who's up, who's down? Who's up-and-coming and who's a has-been? Its all intriguing entertainment. While I am a loyal Democrat, I also realize that President Obama is vulnerable due to our economic malaise, so if we are going to have a Republican president, I'm interested in who the best person that could be, thus why watching the debate is interesting to me.
Here's the surprise for me. I was actually impressed with Michele Bachmann! But that's not saying much. In the debate, I thought she held herself very well. She had none of Sarah Palin's moments (where Palin couldn't answer a question and just started stringing words together). I've also seen Christine O'Donnell, Sharron Angle, and the governor of Arizona (always forget her name) in debates and they were horrendous. Bachmann held her own against the big boys and yes, I'll even grant that she did appear attractive during the debate (I've never understood her physical appeal. I've never found her attractive at all). The best moment of the debate came when one of the panel asked her if she would be submissive to her husband if she were the president. The audience actually boo'd that question! Bachmann, however, let the boos die down before responding by first thanking the guy for asking the question, then explaining herself. That was incredibly gracious of her! Had it been Sarah Palin, I'm sure she would have been sassy and sarcastic in return and just go all pitbull with lipstick on the person who asked the question.
There is no doubt that Bachmann is poised and coolly professional. During the entire debate, she showed none of her ding-bat comments that mixes up historical facts (where the Revolutionary War began or our Founding Fathers) or even names (John Wayne Gacy for John Wayne). However, she still spins the facts. Such as her answer regarding the submission question. She tried to claim that submission means "respect", which is not true. Submission has everything to do with one person having power and the other abiding by that power without question. The person with the power, of course, prefers to have others submit to their power without question or complaint. There is no respect from the person with the power towards the person who is submitting. While some in the audience think the question was inappropriate, it is Bachmann herself who is responsible for the question because she was quoted as saying that she did not want to be a tax lawyer at first, when her husband suggested it to her. But because she believes that a woman has to submit to the will of her husband, she went along with it. This is a legitimate question to ask because Americans are voting for the president and we have a right to know if the president will be taking orders from an unelected person, such as the person who would be the First Gentleman. If he's giving her orders, then of course voters have a right to know.
In the debate, I liked Pawlenty's comments regarding Bachmann. He pointed out that she has not accomplished anything in her terms on Capitol Hill. That her stands against certain bills have not put an end to those bills, because they passed anyway without her votes. How effective of a leader is she if she can't write bills and get them passed? One thing in this debate that I really liked was when Bachmann explained her vote to increase tobacco taxes. She said that it was because the bill also had a pro-life rider attached and she had chosen to protect the unborn over her objections to raising taxes. This is common in our politics, which renders a politician's vote meaningless. Thus, when 30 second campaign ads point out that so-and-so has voted for such-and-such bill, it can be misleading, because when you vote for a bill, you're voting for the original bill AND all of the riders that are attached. Voting no could cost you far more than voting yes. Its incredibly detailed and complex. Personal pet projects are all in those riders and most Americans have no clue about how bills are written. This is why I don't pay attention to how a candidate votes on this or that bill. I prefer to look at the larger picture. What does it say overall about a candidate?
As for the other candidates, here are my impressions after watching the debate...
Rick Santorum actually appeared more likable than he really is. When I interned in the U.S. Capitol in 2000, Santorum was the Senator who most often requested using the Vice Presidential Ceremonial office to hold meetings. He came across as a pompous asshole and my office did not like him very much. In the debate, he was virtually ignored and had to struggle to get a question or two thrown his way.
Herman Cain was well spoken but clueless about a lot of stuff. One thing I found interesting was that he claimed to not have an issue with Romney's religion, but that there are many people down South who do. This is such a disingenuous way to introduce religion into the debate or into voters minds. I hate it when people use this form of attack. Would Cain like it if someone said of him, "I don't have a problem with a black candidate running for president, but there are many people in the South who would have a problem with him"? Instead of saying something like that, why not say instead: "I have no problem with Romney's religion and neither should anyone else. He's a patriotic American and his religion is as quintessentially American as a religion can get."
Ron Paul's views on foreign policy are right on, but his domestic policy views are scary. That's the problem with libertarians. No government is the best form of societal organization for these people. Ron Paul may be popular with a certain crowd, but there truly is no way he will get the nomination. Its amazing that he's allowed to be in the debates, though, based on some of the stuff he says about our National Security state. The NSA probably keeps a good eye on him!
Mitt Romney still comes across as a flip flopper. He is definitely the John Kerry of the Republican set. Despite his inability to stick to a position and defend it, he is still the least objectionable Republican and if Obama loses the presidency to anyone, Romney is the only Republican I could tolerate this go-round (my dream Republican president is Senator Scott Brown).
Jon Huntsman was a disappointment. After reading quite a few articles about him, how the media continues to play up his credentials and "star quality", I fail to see what the media sees in him. Their love affair with this candidate is truly embarrassing. Just watching him is painful. His facial contortions are unbecoming to watch. He looks constipated when he talks. Also, when asked a question, he always responds first by saying: "I'm very proud of my record and will stand by them over anyone else's record" before giving his resume. Its just annoying. I don't think he has a prayer. The question is, will he last to the first primary?
Finally, there's the cantankerous curmudgeon Newt Gingrich who chided the questioners as playing "Mickey Mouse games" (whatever that means) by focusing on what he considers trivial stuff. What set him off was the question about his staff bolting on him. That's what's called a "process question" (which the John Kerry campaign also famously did not comment on). But, considering that the media spent half a debate in 2008 focusing on Obama's missing flag pin and his controversial pastor, what can we expect from our media? Of course, Republicans thought nothing of the level of shallow questions asked of the Democrats in 2008, so why balk now? While I actually agree with Gingrich on the media needing to ask questions on policies rather than process, a part of me was thrilled that the question set Gingrich off so he can show his belligerent / arrogant side. I don't think he'll make it to the Iowa Caucus in January. There is nothing admirable or remotely presidential about him. He needs to go off and have an affair with some lady who's not his wife. Cheating on his wives is about the only thing he's truly good at.
Finally, I wanted to mention the above cover photo in Newsweek that caused a lot of controversy. I believe that Jon Stewart called it correctly. On his Daily Show, he called the editor out for what he says was a deliberate decision to portray Bachmann as some crazy-eyed radical. He went on to say that Newsweek would have done better had they focused on direct quotes by Bachmann that show that she is a crazed ideologue. He ended his segment by showing unflattering photos of Newsweek's editor. I loved it! It was so right on. I agree that it was bad form for Newsweek to do such a thing. The photo is unflattering and it wouldn't have hurt to pick a more flattering photo of her. You can dislike a person but still respect them by not showing an unflattering photo. This cover photo only gave conservatives ammunition to use in their trite argument that there is a "liberal media bias" against their views and politicians. This is their proof! However, while I would have used a more flattering photo of Bachmann, the conservatives also show amnesia. In 1999, there was a book that came out called Hell to Pay. It was a critical book about Hillary Rodham Clinton. They picked the ugliest photo of her that they could find and it was truly tacky and tasteless. I don't remember hearing conservatives complaining about that. For me, this is proof of the double standards that conservatives have. Its okay when they do it, but not okay when liberals do it. WRONG! Its NOT OKAY when anyone does it!!!
This probably won't be the last time I write about Bachmann, but I am truly missing Sarah Palin. I wish she would jump into the race. She loves attention and I can't believe she's okay sitting on the sidelines while her beloved teabaggers are flocking to Bachmann. She needs to step up and reclaim her title!
In other news, on Saturday, I met the state senator who is running for the 1st congressional district. I told her that I wanted to volunteer on her campaign. She gave a Town Hall meeting and I was impressed by her grasp of the issues she presented. In the past, I've only volunteered on the campaigns of male politicians. I base my support on how I feel about certain candidates. After the slew of male politicians falling prey to the "mid life crisis" with sex scandals, I'm tired of men not taking their duties seriously. We don't hear much about female politicians having sex scandals. I believe that women in mid-life truly hit their stride and make excellent politicians because they care about the issues and can focus on them without falling prey to the temptations that afflict middle aged men in power (Capitol Hill crawls with beautiful young ladies. In all the places I've worked, I've never seen a place that had more beautiful women per square foot than the Capitol Hill neighbourhood of D.C.). I plan to read up more on this local politician, but the two male candidates who announced their campaigns months before Congressman Wu resigned have failed to excite me. I can definitely see this latest candidate as Congressional material. She could be the Barbara Boxer of Oregon! Hopefully, I'll be actively involved and prove myself to be a loyal, hard worker and that she will win the seat. I want to move back to the west side, back into the district sometime next year. Stay tuned!